Magnus Carlsen retains his world chess title after Ian Nepomniachtchi’s latest blunder | 2021 World Chess Championship

The imperious Magnus Carlsen confirmed his long-standing place as the planet’s best chess player on Friday by retaining the world championship with a fourth victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi in their 11th meeting in Dubai.

A close game that seemed to be tied to a draw immediately came undone when the Russian challenger made a ghastly blunder that gave Carlsen the game and the match, punctuating a dramatic break-up that began a week ago when Nepomniachtchi failed in the sixth game, an epic 7h 45min taxer.

Carlsen’s winning score of 7½-3½ with three games to go is the most lopsided result in a World Championship game since José Raúl Capablanca’s triumph over Emanuel Lasker exactly 100 years ago in Havana. In that game, Capablanca won by a margin of four games without a single loss – an astonishing margin that Carlsen equaled on Friday with a decisive fourth result in six games after their first five encounters ended in draws.

“It’s hard to feel that great joy when the going was so comfortable at the start, but I’m happy with a very good performance overall,” said Carlsen. “You can point to things that you could have done differently in each game, of course, but overall I’m happy with my game, very proud of my efforts in Game 6, and that kind of laid the groundwork. basics of everything. “

Ian Nepomniachtchi made another costly mistake in Game 11 as his world title hopes wore off. Photograph: Jon Gambrell / AP

Nepomniachtchi, playing with favorable white pieces, bypassed the English opening he had played in Tuesday’s ninth game for an Italian (1 … e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4). Players threw their opening shots (3 … Nf6 4 d3 Bc5 5 c3 d6 6 OO a5 7 Re1 Ba7 8 Na3) until Carlsen played the rare 8 …. h6, one line seen only twice before at the highest level.

The challenger spent nearly 18 minutes thinking about his answer, apparently taken out of his opening preparation, before playing 9 Nv2. The tension continued to build from there, reaching a flashpoint with all four pawns looking at each other in the center of the board after Nepomniachtchi’s 19 …. d4 and Carlsen’s 20 d5, although the supercomputers of chess evaluating the match indicated a peaceful outcome.

But soon after, Nepomniachtchi made another sensational blunder – his third on a pawn move last week – attacking Black’s tower with 23 g3.

Carlsen found the winning answer in a minute and a half (23 … dxe3) and from there the game and match was just a handshake. When the Russian finally quit after 49 strokes and 3h21min, the Norwegian’s fifth victory in five world championship matches was done and dusted off.

“I didn’t expect it to turn out like this,” said Carlsen, who wins 60% of the € 2million (£ 1.7million) for winning before the tie-breaker. “I think it was just a really good professional performance overall. No regrets, just very satisfied.

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He added: “After five games there were five draws and I had had very, very few chances to play for anything else. Then it all kind of clicked and after that it all worked out my way. You don’t necessarily expect to run away from it in a world championship.

Of his fatal blunders in games eight, ninth and eleventh, a sad Nepomniachtchi said: “These things that happened here, they never happened to me at virtually any event… such as [short] time.”


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